Justice League: All Of The Deep Cut DC References That We Caught
The silver screen superhero landscape will never be the same. DC's most iconic superhero team finally assembled with the release of Zack Snyder's Justice League, and the stage has been set for even more adventures down the line in the DCEU. If you've seen Justice League, then you already know that the film is jam-packed with Easter eggs, references, and DC deep cuts to keep fans occupied for quite some time. With that in mind, let's dive deep into Justice League's references and pick out the 20 coolest moments that are guaranteed to drive DC fans wild!
During Justice League's opening Gotham City sequence, we get a great shot of Batman (Ben Affleck) flying through the sky as he battles one of Steppenwolf's Parademons. As they soar through the air, a sign can clearly be seen in the Gotham skyline that says "Janus." This may seem like a simple, fake company, but it is actually confirmation that Janus Cosmetics exists in the DCEU. This shot is important because Janus Cosmetics has a close affiliation with Roman Sionis a.k.a Black Mask -- an iconic Gotham mobster and longtime Batman bad guy that many fans have waited decades to see on the big screen.
Justice League debuted in theaters on November 17, 2017, and while that may seem like a relatively average date for a movie like this, it is actually a significant DC deep cut. Specifically, November 17 is the publication date for The Death of Superman story arc, and it is also the premiere date for the Justice League cartoon -- a mainstay in the world of classic DC animation. It is unclear if the decision to release Justice League on November 17 was intentional for those reasons, but it seems too perfect not to be a mere coincidence.
Using Lois To Get Through To Superman
There is no one on Earth that Superman (Henry Cavill) cares about more than Lois Lane (Amy Adams). In fact, she's the only thing that can get through to him in even the most terrible of situations. Batman realizes that Lois will be the key to snapping him out of his trance in Justice League, and he has Alfred (Jeremy Irons) bring her to the downed Kryptonian ship to get through to him. Though it's not an exact recreation, this feels reminiscent of Hush, in which Batman has Catwoman throw Lois from a Metropolis rooftop to break Superman free from Poison Ivy's mind control.
Gorilla Sign Language
When Bruce Wayne arrives at Barry Allen's (Ezra Miller) temporary apartment to recruit him into the League, Barry starts rattling off a resume of skills for the billionaire intruder. At one point, he claims to be proficient in sign language, and then quickly corrects himself to say "gorilla sign language." This is important because one of The Flash's most iconic villains is a mind-controlling ape named Gorilla Grodd. We are never given confirmation of whether or not Grodd exists in the DCEU, but if he does, that use of sign language will probably come in handy during a fight.
Exploding Wind-Up Penguins
After the failed attempt to recruit Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) onto his superhero team, Bruce Wayne and Alfred lament the changes that have taken place in the world over the last few years. In one of his many dry one-liners, Alfred reminisces on the more straightforward times in which they only had to worry about exploding wind-up penguins. This is an apparent reference to Batman's deep rogues gallery, and confirmation that Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a The Penguin definitely exists in the DCEU. It also seems like an explicit reference to the events of Batman Returns, which also featured exploding penguins in one of its most bizarre action sequences.
After obtaining two of the Mother Boxes, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) takes them to a burned out nuclear power plant to commence The Unity. While speaking triumphantly about his upcoming victory and his eventual ascendancy to the ranks of the New Gods, he briefly says "for Darkseid," before the scene ends. Casual fans might not know what this means, but DC buffs know that Darkseid is the evil, tyrannical ruler of Apokolips. Rumors have suggested that Darkseid was supposed to appear in Justice League as part of a cliffhanger ending before Joss Whedon took over, but now it looks like DC is waiting to use him.
Flash's Suit Is Cold Resistant
Although it is never directly addressed in the film, many eagle-eyed fans have spotted that one of the technical specifications on Barry Allen's suit is resistance to extreme cold. This is a handy specification, as one of The Flash's longtime bad guys is none other than Leonard "Captain Cold" Snart. Although Snart is not specifically mentioned in the film, this seems like a way of implying that the DCEU version of Barry Allen has already had at least one run-in with a central member of The Rogues -- probably sometime around his battle with Boomerang (Jai Courtney) during the events of Suicide Squad.
When Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen return to Gotham from Central City, they look up to the sky and see the Bat Signal shining among the clouds. However, if you look closer to the ground in one of those shots, you can also see a neon sign for Ace Chemicals. This is a vital part of Batman's backstory, as Ace Chemicals is the location of his fight with the Red Hood in The Killing Joke -- which leads to the creation of The Joker. Ace also appeared in Suicide Squad during the Harley/Joker flashbacks, leading us to believe that Jared Leto's Joker is a Killing Joke Joker.
When we get our first good look at J.K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon at the Gotham City Police Department in Justice League, he is flanked by an unknown GCPD cop (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith). After some digging, we have learned that this officer is actually none other than Detective Crispus Allen -- a fan-favorite character from the Gotham Central storylines, and a frequent side player in Batman's more grounded detective stories. Allen is also known for eventually becoming The Spectre in the pages of DC Comics, so we will have to wait and see if anything comes of the character as the franchise moves forward.
Flash Is Jewish
When Bruce Wayne first encounters Barry Allen and tries to recruit him to the League, Barry does everything in his power to backpedal and prove that he's not who Bruce thinks he is. When faced with a photo of himself using his speed powers to stop a crime, Barry states merely that the person in the picture is a "Jewish boy" who looks like him. This may simply have been a small piece of improv by Ezra Miller (who is Jewish in real life), but it also feels like a subtle nod to the DC Comics history of The Flash -- who was Jewish for some time.
The Old Gods
In Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman we got a brief explanation of the Old Gods (Zeus, Ares, etc.) and their relevance to the Amazons of Themyscira. However, Justice League significantly expands that mythology to show them fighting alongside the Amazons, the soldiers of Atlantis, and the human tribes during Steppenwolf's first attempt at conquest on Earth. In this flashback sequence, we get shot of these gods laying waste to Parademons, and we get a strong understanding of how mighty they were before they died. Moreover, this sequence also laid the groundwork for David F. Sandberg's Shazam movie in 2019.
In addition to the presence of the Old Gods, Justice League's major flashback scene also features an unspecified member of the Green Lantern Corps aiding in the battle against Steppenwolf's armies. Although he is not a familiar face to casual Justice League fans, his death (and his Power Ring's escape into outer space) serves as a primer to tell us that Sector 2814 gained another Lantern after his demise. It is unclear how this will lead into the Green Lantern Corps movie, but this is our first confirmation that the Lanterns exist in the DCEU. Now it's time to bring on Hal Jordan and John Stewart!
The Old Themes
At several points throughout the run of Justice League's story, composer Danny Elfman (who took over for Junkie XL when Joss Whedon stepped in as the film's new director) found points to include the old themes for heroes like Batman and Superman. For Batman, we hear the tune from the classic Tim Burton Batman movies (which Elfman actually scored), and for Superman, we hear the iconic John Williams score (albeit a darker version) when he comes back to life and fights the Justice League. In a movie full of references and Easter eggs, hearing this iconic music was enough to send a chill up our spines.
Jimmy Olsen Cameo
Sure, the DCEU's version of Jimmy Olsen was killed during the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but that didn't stop Justice League from including another Jimmy Olsen. Specifically, we get a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo during the Superman resurrection scene in which actor Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen from Ricard Donner's Superman) appears as a member of the Metropolis Police Department. The history of DC films is long and distinguished, and including a classic cameo like this is just one of many ways to honor that tradition in a way that's undeniably cool for fans. At least this Jimmy Olsen makes it out alive, right?
The Hall of Justice Tease
Justice League ends on an incredibly hopeful note, with Alfred, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) returning to Wayne Manor with plans to make it a new base of operations for the newly-formed Justice League. This scene seems to imply that Wayne Manor is going to become the Hall of Justice -- the Justice League base first seen in the classic Super Friends cartoon from the 1970s. The scene also implies that they are leaving "room for more" at the table, which means that we can look forward to many more heroes entering the fray over the next few years.
Justice League Brunch
Justice League features a running joke that The Flash just cannot wrap his head around the concept of brunch and why people even bother with it. This seems like an off-hand joke about a cliché millennial hobby, but there is actually a precedent for members of the League to go out to brunch with each other. Specifically, this seems like a play on a scene in Kingdom Come in which Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all go to a Justice League-themed restaurant for breakfast. After all, they are not just partners; they are super friends who go out to eat together.
Most of you likely noticed that the skies looked unnaturally red during the climactic battle sequence at the end of Justice League. While it certainly provided a nice, ominous hue for the action, it also had a deeper significance in DC history. "Red skies" is a phrase thrown around during major DC crossover events -- such as Crisis on Infinite Earths -- and the visual motif usually implies that the action taking place in the story is of a potentially world-ending scale. That's the kind of destruction that Steppenwolf brought with him, so Justice League honored the team's comic book history by reddening up those skies.
Flash Racing Superman
The first Justice League post-credits scene isn't heavy on plot, but it provides one of those delightful fan service moments that's just too good to pass up. After their initial battle earlier in the film, we learn that Superman and The Flash are relatively comparable regarding speed. Once they have put their differences behind them, they agree to race each other to the Pacific Coast, thus paying homage to several comic book moments in which the duo have put their speed to the rest in a friendly competition. In the comics, Flash usually wins, but no winner is established in Justice League.
Legion of Doom Tease
Last, but certainly not least, Justice League ends its second post-credits scene with the arrival of Joe Manganiello's Slade Wilson on a yacht belonging to none other than Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Apparently aiming to set up future adventures in the DCEU, the sequence involves Luthor offering a partnership to Deathstroke and proposing that they form a league of their own. The obvious implication is that a supervillain team is about to develop, but DC fans also know that this is laying the groundwork for the iconic villain ensemble known as the Legion of Doom a.k.a the Injustice League.
Justice League is now in theaters, so make sure to check it out to see all of these DC deep cut references for yourself! Beyond that, check out our in-depth review of the film, as well as our handy To 3D guide as well!
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Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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